Labor regains climate mojo as Abbott slams door on world | RenewEconomy

Labor regains climate mojo as Abbott slams door on world

Abbott trampling of climate policy across the international stage is proving an irresistible target for Labor. So has it regained its climate mojo?


Early this year, Labor climate change spokesman Mark Butler made the effort to travel across Australia to gauge the feeling among the party faithful on climate change policies.

Should they bother with it? Or just fold their cards in with the Tories and pretend it’s not an issue.

The response appears to have overwhelming. And with Tony Abbott, the Prime Ministerial former boxing blue, leading with his chin at home and abroad, it’s simply too big a target to ignore, or even to miss.

Abbott’s calamitous tour of north America tells us nothing new about his attitude to climate policy. His determination to destroy the country’s own policy framework, and to do his best to disrupt international talks, is well documented.

His affinity with “Canadia”, and its long-standing anti-climate action PM Stephen Harper, is also not a surprise. Like Australia, Canada is grimly determined to extract as many fossil fuels as they can. And as Abbott’s brethren in the Queensland government expressed this week, Australia and Canada just don’t think they are rich enough yet to do the right thing on climate.

It is, of course, an attitude that beggars belief. What is more astounding is the confirmation that Abbott is incapable of expressing any thought on the international stage that is not a derivative of his domestic campaign sloganeering. Hence his rejection of an invitation by UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to attend a crucial leader’s summit in September.

abbott copyAs the SMH cartoonist so aptly  illustrated today, Abbott is striding the world as a leader, but only of the Opposition to doing anything. And Labor and others have been keen to use this image to the right to illustrate just how isolated Abbott has become. The conservative toadies in the media, naturally, are horrified. Abbott has lots of mates, Andrew Bolt insisted in his latest column.Why, there’s Harper and, and, and. Well, he didn’t actually name any others.

Butler, of course, has been having a field day. As have the Greens, of course, but if the Abbott government is to be removed, it can only be at the hands of a credible alternative from one of the mainstream parties, either within his own party or from Labor – who may well rely on the Greens, in any case, in a future parliament.

“Tony Abbott’s position on climate change has moved from embarrassing and ignorant to downright damaging to Australia,” Butler says in his latest statement.

“Each day, Tony Abbott’s complete ignorance on the science and economics of climate change is exposed by experts and leaders.

“However, he continues to ignore the evidence that climate change is real and requires strong domestic and international action.”

A day earlier, Butler highlighted how Abbott had isolated himself from mainstream thinking. He might have added the G7 alliance, which re-iterated its commitment to achieving a decent outcome in Paris next year.

“Is it [climate change] the most important the world faces right now? I don’t believe so.”

Tony Abbott, 10 June 2014

“We think that climate change should be the number one priority for all leaders to consider. It is clearly the defining issue of our time.”

Spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, 10 June 2014

“This Government takes climate change seriously. That is … why we’re actively involved in international climate change efforts.”

John Key, New Zealand Prime Minister, 10 June 2014

“If you profess leadership you need to recognise that this [climate change] is one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that the planet faces.”

Barack Obama, 10 June 2014

It’s all good fun. But to be truthful, Labor has some catching up to do on this issue. It stuffed up its first attempt at an emissions trading scheme by using it as a wedge against Malcolm Turnbull, and then refusing to talk with the Greens.

It baulked at a double dissolution, dropped its own scheme, and when it finally produced a decent package with the help of Ross Garnaut, the Greens and the country independents, it had no idea how to sell it. Instead, it allowed three words “Axe the Tax”, to derail the most important economic initiative of the time. And it didn’t dare take climate change to the electorate as a major issue.

So, is Butler just having fun with an irresistible target, or is Labor really, really serious about climate change this time, and all that it implies on the coal and other fossil fuel industries? Time will tell.

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  1. Keith 6 years ago

    The hard one for Labor is to admit that our future is not based on exploiting fossil fuels. Until Labor bites the bullet on this, then the only party in touch with reality is the Greens.

    It may be that we’ll have to wait a little longer until our customers change the game by not buying our coal and (eventually) gas.

    My hunch is that the average Australian will cope with the challenge (Greens strong support is a guide), but there needs to be articulated a way forward …. the obvious solution is massive adoption of renewable energy … great way to employ lots of people.

    …. meantime we are on the path to oblivion….

    • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

      If I worked in an environmentally destructive industry I be a protected species. But I’m an endangered species because I have ethics.

  2. Zvyozdochka 6 years ago

    LNP represent, or are purchased by business-as-usual. Labor are for losing old-jobs more slowly, while the Greens are for re-inventing the economy.

    Each position gets harder to communicate in that order.

    • Giles 6 years ago

      Best and most succinct description i’ve seen in long time

    • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

      And not just communicate… but to collect signatures for. That’s why the Greens are investing so much effort in grass roots campaigning, door to door conversations. Real people talking to each other without all the pollie-ticking. It’s also what worked in the more conservative seat of Indie.

  3. Rob 6 years ago

    I voted Labor all my life until a few years ago when I switched to the Greens. Unless Labor develops a very strong policy to developing renewable energy in Australia and fighting global warming I will never consider switching back.

    • wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

      Better have a word with all the ALP MPs doing back room land for coal swaps, then go and wander the corridors at your local Trades Hall, many of whom are just enamoured of coal, gas and mining in general because an uneducated bloke or sheila can make some serious wedge in that industry.

  4. wideEyedPupil 6 years ago

    “It’s all good fun. But to be truthful, Labor has some catching up to do on this issue. It stuffed up its first attempt at an emissions trading scheme by using it as a wedge against Malcolm Turnbull, and then refusing to talk with the Greens.”

    This. Wong and Rudd were stupid little bullies and it came back to bite them real quick.

  5. coomadoug 6 years ago

    I am so annoyed with the greens and Labour, day after day telling us that the Abbot policies are a joke. We all ready know this is so. Yes the world is round…we get the picture.

    More and more of us are also getting the idea that the solution to the emissions problem is now possible and at the same time, an absolute gold mine for industry employment and the economy.

    If the politicians don’t understand it, lets employ some people who do. Lets spell it out.
    Stop telling us that Tony thinks the world is flat. That will not help. Instead how about explaining how future technologies will eliminate most of the poles and wires and energy will be cheaper and totally green.

  6. Les Johnston 6 years ago

    With the smell of so much fossil based money passing into the hands of certain elements of Government, it is time for perceptions of corruption to be totally removed from the political agenda. This will take some soul searching by politicians and those who are involved with hoping for an easy ride for the “new” fossil mine or fossil infrastructure. Yet to see many politicians declare the time for disclosure is now.

  7. Peter Hill 6 years ago

    Well, it does sound hopeful, but I agree with your last paragraph: the ALP needs to think through their stance on coal. They need to come up with a coherent strategy to deal with the substantial impacts that disinvestment will have on the Hunter, central Queensland and Gippsland. Can’t expect too much when they’ve collapsed in the face of the anti-mining tax campaign and the anti-carbon tax campaign.

    But they have no future if they only represent the current industrial labour force – there aren’t that many of them any more.

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